back to: Multiple Sclerosis - Cause, Transmission, Prevention and Way Out
Helmut Ihmig 22.01.2011
The cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) is a mystery. There are many attempts to explain the mystery, but the all-round satisfying answer has been missing. Inter alia, an environmental cause factor is suspected. The assumption based on epidemiological data sees civilized living conditions such as a high standard of living and a high level of hygiene. It could be a conflict between the individual everyday culture of civilized man and nature.
I would like to take up this assumption and present an evolutionary biological cause hypothesis. Impressions from the many years of dealing with the disease have provided the decisive clues. I associate this project with the hope to come a little closer to the truth.
In essence, it is about the discovery of a previously unknown bacterial ecosystem.
Foregoing it has to be said: Evolutionary causes of MS are discussed here and not the immediate, not even problems of the disease or ways of remedy. The following text is arranged in a rough grid, without any claim to detail or completeness.
I would like to begin with a brief look into the biology of man.
Man is a creature of nature. Zoologically speaking, he belongs to the class of mammals and differs from them by the highly developed brain, walking upright, the differentiated use of the hands, the verbal language, etc. The man has lost the typical mammalian fur coat.
A number of physical features and fossil findings suggest a tropical origin of man. Under tropical conditions, he is capable of existing without clothing, dwelling and fire, even with a minimum of food.
Compared to cold, humans are only partially protected. With decreasing air temperature, the physical tolerance limits of the naked person are soon reached.
Now intellect and other human abilities have equipped the biological evolution with their "hard" rules a "softer" cultural evolution at the side. This runs much more faster. It has primarily determined the culturel development of man.
At the beginning of this development the control of the fire was an eminently important step. It opened up ways of detachment from the animal being, ways of the man being. The control of the fire decisively established the dominant position of man in nature, created new freedoms and provided the necessary conditions for migration.
The - in the developmental sense - modern man has lived in the predominant part of his existence with the open fire. Clothing, habitation and fire are essential in the human life. It is therefore not entirely absurd to ask for background factors, at least of fire and dwelling.
Fire is for humans something ambivalent: on the one hand light, heat, weapon, protection, tools and much more, on the other hand smoke and soot source and general danger.
Now the heat of the fire is given off to a not inconsiderable extent as selective radiation. This gives the human an undefined sense of well-being. Certainly, humans have long appreciated the recreational value of the radiation of fire. Apart from diffuse heat and cold receptors of the skin, humans do not have a special sensory organ for heat radiation. Obviously, man has developed a more or less intuitive feeling for thermal radiation.
It was early human aspiration, despite danger to integrate the fire in the dwelling. Only in the last millennium, this changed in small steps. Due to narrowing the fireplace (stove) and evacuation of the fumes (chimney) a limited departure from the open fire. In the industrial age iron stoves and finally central heating systems prevailed. It started the time of warm air heating.
We measure heat in energy units (kWh) and are convinced that the physiological requirements are met when a preselected room air temperature is reached. The decisions taken in this context in the past mainly stem from a security policy, effectiveness and marketing calculus. I would like to ask if these decisions sufficiently take into account the natural needs of humans.
Bacteria have evolved in billions of years in waters and in the soil and today are almost everywhere. They increasingly appear where they find optimal living conditions. In doing so they presuppose space, energy, stability and water as first approximation - like all life. Because of time and number, bacteria have occupied almost all existing ecological niches. Crucial is the success of the population.
Due to their small size, bacteria also enter the airspace. However, this makes special demands. In my opinion, bacteria have also found solutions here.
Commonly known is passive air transport, i.e. bacteria enter the air as aerosols, are carried by the wind and can thus reach other habitats. In fact, bacteria are found in large numbers in air, as it has recently been revealed by DNA chip air samples (2).
Many bacterial species are characterized by a high degree of specialization. This property has, according to my observation, produced a very special adaptation to air transport. So it seems that bacteria have succeeded in conquering the airspace metabolically.
The generally unknown metabolism-active air transport is bacteria only possible under extremely stable conditions. These can be found in wind-calm zones like caves, deepenings, angles, niches. The air structure of these zones differs considerably from that of the free atmosphere. Certainly bacteria in these zones have discovered freely available water and nutrition.
Liquid water occurs in these zones as condensed boundary layer water of the particle aerosols. This is called aerosol water. It may accumulate for physical reasons in the above-mentioned zones, because there it dries relatively slowly.
In water, also in aerosol water, gaseous, liquid or solid substances can go into solution. Here, for example, I see traces of human or animal respiration. These can be solved in my opinion in aerosol water, compacted and bacterial at least in the amount of a survival ration available.
Bacteria also live in ecosystems. Thus, certain bacteria have made the ability to assimilate the energy-containing substances contained in the aerosol water into a building block of the species-specific ecosystem. They seem to have succeeded in this way to conquer more habitats. So the particle aerosol, which is provided with a water-layer, becomes for the germ to a freely available, well supplied ferry.
Bacteria can, therefore, under appropriate conditions, also be active by air searching for new resources. So there are, according to my assumption, bacterial species that develop microbiotopes and new attack potentials in the air state as I described.
The interior of a building is evolutionarily considered an invention of modern man. The atmosphere of the interior is closed off from the dynamic events of the free atmosphere and develops according to its own laws. Thus, new types of environmental factors can arise, even those that do not pass entirely the biological system of human. For nature has developed man on the conditions of the outside atmosphere. In the interior these are different.
The atmospheric conditions of the interior may be similar to that of the initially mentioned wind-calming zone. I would therefore like to use the term "air texture" in connection with the interior atmosphere. My impression is that this can be quite different.
What is special about the air texture of the interior? I will try to answer this question:
I notice first of all the extremely high stability of the interior atmosphere. The reasons for this are obvious: First there is the limitation in all spatial axes and there is the consequence of the vertical temperature stratification. The latter has e.g. 18 C on the floor, 20 C in the middle room and 22 C under the ceiling. It is a temperature gradient rising with the height of the room. Meteorologists would call this temperature stratification "under Adiabatic". As is known, this leads to a high air stability.
Similar vertical temperature stratifications can also be set in the outside atmosphere (inversion, foehn). The consequences are known.
I would like to consider the boundary layer of any free-floating particle aerosol in the stable atmosphere of the interior.
Since the interior lacks the natural dynamics of the free atmosphere, the particle aerosol will have a relatively thick boundary layer. The particle aerosol can then assume a changed thermal behavior and thus differ from the surrounding air. Within the boundary layer, for example, the energy transport path convection recedes, those of the heat conduction and the latent heat may be reduced. Only the energy transport path radiation remains unchanged. As a result, this leads to an indicated thermal insulation of the particle.
When considering the energy exchange at the particle aerosol, it should be noted that very thin layers of water assume the selective radiation properties of water vapor. A water layer of the order of magnitude mentioned here absorbs and emits radiation as the gas water vapor. This property affects several energy transport paths. Furthermore, it should be noted that the high-energy radiation bands of the water vapor are in the near infrared (about 2 µm).
In this view, the water input into the interior is to include. Here in the foreground is the air exhaled by the residents with about 6% water vapor. This condenses as liquid water on colder surfaces, even on those wetted particle aerosols. The single particle gains energy during condensation.
Now the inhabited interior in this country must be supplied with heat energy depending on the season. In summer this makes the sun, in winter the heating. Both can lead to complications.
The warm air heater distributes the heat mainly by convection. In this process, in addition to the heat distribution, aerosol water is redistributed in many small steps in the direction of colder zones. Volume compensation is extremely slow over time. The range of effective selective radiation of water vapor under indoor conditions is low and is in my opinion in the cm range.
As already mentioned, heat energy is released during the condensation. Subsequently, chemical reactions, even the presumed biological activities can be faster.
Furthermore, I would like to briefly address the radiation distribution in the interior, especially those selective radiation of water vapor. Its low effective range has already been mentioned. The radiation currents balance sources and sinks. As a result, this can lead to a quite different radiation distribution in the interior.
In this regard, modern heating systems are not always of very advantageous quality. The radiation spectrum discussed here is usually barely covered. In the negative sense fall on low temperature heaters. The ban on incandescent lamps also helps to reduce this radiation.
I would like to describe an example: The radiation spectrum of a pure underfloor heating is, roughly considered, just in the range of the atmospheric window (about 10µm - 12.5µm), in which atmospheric gases including water vapor do not absorb or emit. This probably has the consequence that aerosol water dries much slower in rooms with underfloor heating.
It was mentioned that already before the industrialization the radiation concept of the heating with forced replacement of the indoor air was replaced more and more by a warm air concept (without air exchange). This has led in my opinion in the interior to a beginning general accumulation of aerosol water.
One should now expect that much is offset over time by heating. However, this is not always the case, and habits of use of the inhabitants are also influential. Thus, as I see it, this development has led to a conflict that civilized man has to carry out, and not just in relation to multiple sclerosis.
Of my obsevations the microbial activity in the boundary water layer of particle aerosols, which has been made possible by the indoor conditions described, can in rare cases intervene in the vegetative regulation of humans, e.g. as an increase in blood pressure, as an immune activation, as a stress factor and more.
Here I would like to send an excerpt from an article in the newsletter of the German Multiple Sclerosis Society at the end of the eighties: "Gypsies are only affected by multiple sclerosis if they give up nomadic life and settle down."
I think this sentence may be correct as an interpretation of the results of epidemiological studies. But also think that this sentence can say more, because it meets in my estimation the core of the action. I would therefore generalizing the name "gypsy" by "people". I do not want to say more.
Back to the evolution of man: With sedentariness, man broke away from the constraints of biological evolution. The interior was created as part of this challenge. However, the next and ultimately decisive step towards the widespread onset of multiple sclerosis only occurred in the age of industrialization with the expanded infrastructure, new technologies, commercialization and finally new pressure from the energy shortage. The resulting changes in living conditions were followed by changes in human behavior.
The MS causative hypothesis (2), which I published many years ago as a book that was equally based on observational data, understood the onset of MS as a result of a specific immune response to exogenous metabolic products of protein-recycling bacteria. As a key substance I saw an unspecified molecular fragment of bacterially synthesized exoenzymes or exotoxins, which should be able to unmask MHC addresses. The molecular model was the coenzyme of a bacterial protease. The relapse-inducing substance should enter the human body through nutrition and be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Today I would like to expand this assumption to the effect that it can be a molecule synthesized by bacteria specifically for this purpose.
The observation data suggest that with a sufficiently high germ density in the room air, primarily this can occur in dormitories, an immunological sensitization takes place in the manner of a "stille Feiung" (german expression). Essential here is possibly the long-term effect of the bacterial factor. In contrast, the relapse of disease is the result of a short-term effect. The repertoire of the relapse trigger conditions is therefore more comprehensive, which I will discuss later. A difference between sensitization and relapse is therefore probably to see in the duration of action of the bacterial factor.
In particular, I suspect a bacterial germ that is ubiquitous and can often be detected with conventional air samples in living rooms: Staphylococcus aureus. There is also evidence of viral involvement, possibly phage. But I do not want to go into that here.
In general, the immune system is able to eliminate almost all foreign substances occurring within the physical limits. The reason why multiple sclerosis can derail nevertheless may have the following reasons: In fact, the germ of the immune system can not be eliminated, because the source of germination is beyond the physical limits. Thus, as a result of unsuccessful defense, the immune system may interpret the sensitization process as irregular.
As a result, I see a gradual enhancement of the immune response, as is often seen in MS. Such complications may, in my understanding, create an image of autoimmune disease. In addition, this process can affect the autonomic nervous system. So I have observed vegetative reversals, to the effect that the described bacterial factor as an input variable permanently interfering with the vegetative regulation and changes the immunological reactivity.
Presumably, the entire process is accompanied by a partial demise of the ciliated epithelium of the respiratory tract.
It is known that a not inconsiderable proportion of the population appears unnoticed and without pathogenic consequences as a bacterial germ carrier (for example in the nasal atrium). Presumably, the person with MS is also often the germ carrier. Nasal atrial germination may be the precursor to colonization of the upper respiratory tract. This can be e.g. express in the form of a tendency to cold diseases. The latter are often found in people with MS.
A bacterial settlement in the interior atmosphere is not rare according to my impression. In particular, it can happen when the interior, which is used by many people, is ventilated only irregularly or inadequately.
Experience teaches that MS attacks come like lightning from the blue. The risk of a relapse is therefore permanent. You do not see the danger, you do not smell it, you do not feel it. Only the continuous check-up of the environment can provide first small hints.
I would like to give an example. Although this is not typical, it is nevertheless characteristic: In the late spring, the following climate conditions can occur in a frequently visited, on the other hand only irregularly ventilated, interior:
With undisturbed sunlight, the room temperature can rise to significantly higher values with the windows closed. This is not always pleasant. Sometimes one speaks of heat accumulation or barrack climate. In my experience, this air condition seems to provide optimal conditions for increased microbial activity, with bad consequences for MS sufferers.
I assume that in this climatic situation in addition to the increase in temperature, an increase in the aerosol water content will be detected at respiratory level. I would not like to talk about the physical background here.
I have described this unusual everyday climatic condition in such detail to demonstrate the wide spread of danger. Unfortunately, there may be many constellations of this kind in the interior.
The accumulated empirical data in the past years enabled the substantial withdrawal of the difficult nutritional suggestions listed in my book. I currently recommend a near-natural diet and - this is important - the safe exclusion of so-called garbage.
For me, multiple sclerosis is still a dietary issue, but more of a question of the interiors I enter, where I move, where I am. For the afore mentioned reasons, this applies equally to people who use these spaces together with me. Air conditioned and public spaces (event rooms) are a special case.
One last evolutionary consideration: I do not want to exclude that the application of fire in the human genome has left its mark. It should also not be uninteresting that an open fire, however designed in the interior probably will not let break out multiple sclerosis.
The risk of developing MS depends on where you live in your youth. This is supported by a variety of epidemiological findings.
In the youth phase of the human organism there are vegetative basic settings which can be discribed as enviromental conditioning(e.g., blood pressure, immune activity, etc.). These are handled, among other things from the size and quality of regularly occurring exogenous factors. I assume that this involves volumes and ingredients of aerosol water. This would make the above findings more understandable.
One of the many epidemiological findings of MS reseach I would like to mention finally, as this can potentially bring further light into the darkness. It is that from Kurtzke and others created findings of the Faroer Islands (3).
The Faroer Islands in the North Atlantic, located about midway between Norway, Scotland and Iceland, are composed of 18 islands. The population is around 48.000. The Faroer Islands are affiliated politically Denmark. The administration is largely autonomous. The Faroer did not accede to the European Union.
The climate is maritime. The water temperature, primarily air temperature determining, in the summer is on average about 11 °C. Characteristic features of the weather are more frequent precipitation, fog and wind.
In April 1940, British troops landed in response to the German occupation of Denmark on the Faroer Islands. At its peak less than 1700 soldiers were probably involved. The civil administration remained with the Faroer Islands. Everything else held England, including money and credit supply. The occupation lasted until September 1945.
By July 1943, not a single MS-case in the Faroer has been known. In the following seven years, there were 16 and in another 24 years again 16 cases.
The MS-prevalence rates of the Faroers are relatively low. This is where the criticism of the findings that has been expressed on various occasions comes in. I believe, however, that these findings may contain a not inconsiderable reference to the core events of MS.
The findings of the Faroe Islands are conspicuous by comparison with the world's highest MS prevalence rate ever found in the Orkney Island off Scotland.
Britain, like a number of other countries in Northern Europe, is a high-risk country with regard to MS. Kurtzke and others have suspected that MS was introduced in the Faroe Islands by British occupying forces due to a lack of other events that could have been linked to the outbreak of the disease.
Presumably the military occupation was "friendly" in its basic colour. Thus, no central military camp was established. The soldiers lodged in isolated villages of the islands, behind the houses of the inhabitants in the so-called Indmark. The greater part of this cultivated area is used as grassland, a smaller part as arable land. It cannot be ruled out that there was a lively contact between the residents and the soldiers.
The MS only occurred in those islanders who lived in the vicinity of British quarters. In this respect, there was a spatial connection as well as a temporal one. Kurtzke interpreted this phenomenon with an infectious agent and suspected asymptomatic carriers among the soldiers. This approach would argue for a communicable infection.
15.05.2018: This interpretation leaves questions open. Are there other ways of transmission besides infection? Because the fact that MS transmissions take place has to be confirmed by my personal experience at least for the complex of relapses, I will try to answer this question more fully. It is therefore intended to add another chapter with an answer to this website "MS and Way Out".
17.07.2018: This is done in chapter 16. Is multiple sclerosis transmissible?
In the field of general hygiene, I see a hitherto a unexposed danger which is responsible for multiple sclerosis and possibly other human diseases.
The present cause hypothesis is an essential supplement to the MS root cause hypothesis that I published in book form in 1981.
In order to clarify this now extended hypothesis, it is necessary to conduct extensive investigations, which I can not initiate in my situation.
It is conceivable that a re-evaluation of some findings of MS epidemiological research could be instructive.
It is also conceivable that the described bacterial quality may be of interest in the MRSA discussion.
In summary, I understand multiple sclerosis as a partial result of a highly differentiated bacterial attack on humans. The involvement I called in a moment of fright "Coccus Connection". With this perhaps somewhat exaggerated word creation, I would like to introduce a question into the MS causal discussion, which is probably both new and bitter: Is MS a question of general home hygiene?
I wrote this text abroad without access to authoritative reading material. A solid literature search would hardly be possible in my situation anyway. In this respect, the following source is extremely lean and imprecise. On the other hand, I have processed little more than general knowledge of biology and meteorology.
(1) Gary Anderson: Note in Spiegel Online 2010
(2) Helmut Ihmig: From another point of view. One way to the cause and treatment of multiple sclerosis
Hamburger Service Verlag
Year of edition 1981
(3) Kurtzke and others: Epidemiologic Evidence for Multiple Sclerosis as an Infection
(4) Sabine Gorsemann, Christian Kaiser: Faroer
Year of edition 1999